EMDR – Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprogramming
EMDR is a technique, which was discovered, and developing, initially to deal with trauma.
The theory is that when an individual experiences a traumatic event, the information is not processed, meaning that it remains frozen in the persons mind. This would explain why a person has flashbacks, re-occurring dreams, thoughts, anxiety attacks over situations which may serve as triggers which remind them of the event, or develop phobias in situations which may be similar to the event.
For example; being traumatized in a car accident, and now developing a phobia riding in cars. The trauma is the initial accident, which has not been process, frozen, in the mind, and now there is a fear of riding in cars, due to the trauma. One may experience panic attacks at the mere thought of having to ride in a car, going near a car. One may have reoccurring dreams about the initial accident, as an example. This can be an effective treatment for phobias related to flying, dogs, cats, spiders, water, heights etc.
The brain is divided between two hemispheres, left and right. The EMDR theory is that the traumatic event, basically shocks the person, so that the information is not processed between the two hemispheres. To put it simply, the trauma is ‘stuck’ in one side of the brain, hence, the flashbacks, phobias, panic attacks, etc..it has nowhere to go. It’s very much like an old 8 mm film projector which, gets stuck, the same slide doesn’t move, and burns (traumatic event).
What EMDR does, is force the brain to work both hemispheres of the brain (both sides) while recalling the information, so that the traumatic event is processed. The result is that the person is no longer disturbed by the initial trauma. Basically, like with the 8mm film, we would force it through the projector, so we are forcing it through the mind. The actual technique is referred to as bilateral stimulation.
So what is bilateral stimulation & the EMDR process? Most commonly, the EMDR practitioner (with a trained and qualified therapist, who has undergone additional training in the specific practice of EMDR, and has been qualified) will utilize two fingers, keeping them approximately 6-18 inches away from your eyes. With your eyes only you will follow the practitioners fingers, from left to right at a slow to moderate pace for a few seconds. This will be done several times in each EMDR session. For those, for many reasons who may not be able to use their eyes, this can also be done by taping alternatively on the hands, left hand, right hand, or sound, left ear, right ear. By moving your eyes to the left the right side of your brain is engaged, by moving your eyes to the right, the left side of your brain is engaged.
EMDR – UNDERGOING AN ASSESSMENT
EMDR treatment begins by undergoing an assessment with the therapist, developing a relationship of trust, and establishing a positive and supportive environment, which is to be reinforced through EMDR. Once this is firmly put in place, and depending on your assessment, you will be scheduled to begin working on your traumas such as :
- Child abuse
- Bullying, rape
- Domestic violence
- Physical or emotional abuse
- Surviving traumas such as war violence
- Natural disaster.
You will recall the trauma, and begin the EMDR desensitization process (the eye movement), the practitioner is trained to observe through your eye responses, face and body reactions the effectiveness and response to that set. You will take a break and give an account as to what you experienced, using a number scale, provide feedback as to the rate of your disturbance on the trauma.